It's been said many times before, but we'll say it again because it's true: Orlando is the Mecca of wakeboarding. There are two things that make Orlando ideal for being the wakeboard capital of the world: 1) its year-round summer climate, and 2) if it weren't for humans and city development, it would just be one massive swamp. If you fly over the city, you’ll notice that most of the ground is reflecting back up at you. With so many lakes to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down which are the best, so we've given you a list of the top five. The criteria used for this ranking system are based off location, depth, size, wind protection, kook population, and a few other factors.
5. Lake Conway
When it comes to lake life, Lake Conway has some of the most prime real estate in Orlando. This is one of the largest lakes in the area and is home to riders like Gunner Daft, Steel Lafferty, and Tony Iaconni. This lake is so massive, it’s possible that all three of these guys could be riding on different boats and not know that anybody else is out there. With multiple shorelines to ride, wind is almost never a problem. Lake Conway is coming in at number five on the list only because it’s a party lake — open to the general public — and trying to ride here on the weekend can be tricky, thanks to personal watercraft and tubers.
4. Lake Jessamine
This lake houses more high-level wake talent than any other lake in the world. Residents of Jessamine include Mike Dowdy, Harley Clifford, Cory Teunissen and Meagan Ethell. The unique shape and tall trees surrounding Jessamine make it possible to ride no matter how windy it is. It may not be the ideal line, but if you need to train for an upcoming contest, wind won’t stop you from getting out there. On a calm day, as many as four boats — with expert drivers — can share the lake and still keep conditions rideable. The downsides to Jessamine are 1) it has a public boat launch, meaning any kook can access the lake, and 2) it’s not rare to see a large reptile or two, know what I’m sayin’?
3. Lake Holden
Lake Holden may be the smallest lake on this list, but don’t count it out. Unless you live on this lake, it's nearly impossible to get a boat on it. This exclusivity and water quality make Holden a gem. When you go out to ride during the week, it’s likely that you will be the only boat on the water, and even on the weekends, you don’t have to share much either. Riders like Dallas Friday, Guenther Oka, and Derek Cook call Lake Holden home. Two islands and its tight-knit crew of locals make this lake perfect for the work-hard, play-hard lifestyle. Holden’s only weakness is a southern wind that manages to blow out the entire lake.
2. Clear Lake
Clear Lake, a.k.a. The Hood, is homie central as far as Orlando lakes go. More pro riders have lived or currently live on Clear Lake than anywhere else. Some of the current Clear Lake residents include Shane Bonifay, Tony Carroll, and Jeff Langley. Clear Lake is a staple in wakeboard culture, whether it comes to heavy-hitting tricks or legendary parties. A gated boat launch makes it difficult for just anyone to get on the lake and keeps things rather local. Clear is one of the only lakes in the area where you can still build a rail and get away with it. Based on its location, not many cops make it out on the water to patrol things like that, but you also may not want to stray too far from the lake after dark for that same reason.
1. Lake Pickett
Hidden on the most eastern edge of Orlando, Lake Pickett is what some riders can only dream of. When it comes to depth, size, and wind protection, it can’t be beat. This lake also has very few residents due to the acres of commercial orange groves and wildlife that surround it. Pickett runs deep in wakeboard history with guys like Scott Byerly and Gator Lutgert inventing tricks on its waters. This might also be one of the most difficult lakes to get a boat on. You either need to know somebody who has a key to the only real boat ramp on the lake, or you need to have property and build your own. Sadly, with the constant expansion of Orlando, developers have taken notice of Lake Pickett and are preparing to build subdivisions on the water. For years, Pickett was Orlando’s best kept secret, and until those homes are built, it's likely the best place to ride in Orlando.